Oprah Winfrey: The Real Story

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Born illegitimate and virtually abandoned in the Deep South, Oprah is a living symbol of hope and success. A black woman in a business dominated by white males, she has made it to the top with remarkable determination and talent. Raised at first by her grandmother on a Mississippi farm, Oprah shuttled between Milwaukee, where her mother had moved, and Nashville, where her father and her stepmother, Zelma, lived. Oprah grew up in a tiny ghetto apartment with her mother's relatives, where at one point she was ...
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Overview

Born illegitimate and virtually abandoned in the Deep South, Oprah is a living symbol of hope and success. A black woman in a business dominated by white males, she has made it to the top with remarkable determination and talent. Raised at first by her grandmother on a Mississippi farm, Oprah shuttled between Milwaukee, where her mother had moved, and Nashville, where her father and her stepmother, Zelma, lived. Oprah grew up in a tiny ghetto apartment with her mother's relatives, where at one point she was raped. She began to live a wild, promiscuous life, until 1968, when Vernon and Zelma took her in. Ambitious and precocious, she got her first job with radio station WVOL while in her senior year of high school. Soon she was winning beauty contests, and in 1973 she was hired by television station WTVF-TV in Nashville at the age of nineteen. To work there she left college to become the first female and the first black newscaster in Nashville, earning $15,000 a year. Oprah Winfrey: The Real Story reveals, often for the very first time: The story of her best friend, Gayle King, who was there for her when Oprah contemplated suicide, the inside story of Oprah's long, on-camera battle with dieting and why she now says, "DIETS DON'T WORK!", how she spent part of the $89 million she made in 1993 on gifts to friends and staff, donations to schools and charities and financing Spike Lee's Malcolm X, the little known ultra-right-wing connections of Oprah's boyfriend and "husband-to-be," Stedman Graham, the behind-the-scenes deals made by Oprah's staff with manufacturers to plant shills on the show, and the very private conflict over whether or not she will have another baby - she first miscarried when she was a teenager - now that she has turned forty. Prize-winning journalist George Mair has interviewed Oprah's friends, family, colleagues, and critics to present this definitive saga of her struggle and success.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Mair got lucky: his unauthorized cut-and-paste biography is being published in time to satisfy the massive curiosity aroused by cancellation of the megastar's autobiography. Veteran show-biz chronicler Mair (Inside HBO) does his best to fill the gap, and Oprah's story practically tells itself. Bounced between parents and cities, abused by relatives, Oprah was a rebellious teenager who, as a young woman, found her niche in the new-format TV talk show. Mair follows her conscientiously from Nashville to Baltimore to Chicago, from WJZ-TV to WLS-TV to her own Harpo Productions. She appears with Joan Rivers and agrees on-screen to a dieting contest; filming The Color Purple is a thrilling experience; The Women of Brewster Place is her first independent TV production; and the tall, elegant Stedman Graham comes into her life, unawed, according to Mair, by Oprah's riches and success. The problem with the book is apparent: one can repeat how dynamic and charming Oprah is ad infinitum, but Mair doesn't capture what makes her different. Ardent collectors of Oprah trivia will want to scan this account then compile the questions they hope will be answered in the star's own book-once she comes to terms with being as uninhibited on paper as she is on-screen. Photos not seen by PW. (Nov.)
Library Journal
After Winfrey's 11th-hour withdrawal of her autobiography last year, her fans may hope that this "unauthorized" version will be full of personal revelations. Unfortunately, this effort presents just the basic-and already known-facts of Winfrey's life: her childhood in rural Mississippi, the molestations she endured at the hands of relatives and friends, her driving need to make something of herself, her career as a youthful newscaster, and her talk show successes. Most of the material has been taken from already published sources and interviews, resulting in a shallow and lightweight treatment. Information on the history of television talk shows and a discussion of the King World distribution empire pad the book. The only item that might be new to Winfrey's devotees is the extreme conservatism of her boyfriend, Steadman Graham. The style is tabloid and the information repetitive; Winfrey and her fans deserve better. For the real story, wait for Winfrey to write her own book. Not recommended.-Rosellen Brewer, MOBAC Lib. System, Monterey, Cal.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781568950952
  • Publisher: Cengage Gale
  • Publication date: 3/1/1995
  • Series: Large Print Bks.

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